North-south divide on deaths

An excess of 3530 men aged 25–44 are dying from cardiovascular disease, accidents, and alcohol and drug misuse in the north of England compared to the south, and the gap shows no sign of narrowing.

According to the study published in the Lancet Public Health (doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30177-4) a mortality divide between the England’s five most northern versus five most southern government office regions appeared in the mid-1990s and rapidly expanded thereafter for deaths attributed to accidents, alcohol misuse, and drug misuse. In the 2014–16 period, the northern excess was incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1·47 (95% CI 1·39–1·54) for cardiovascular disease, 2·09 (1·94–2·25) for alcohol misuse, and 1·60 (1·51–1·70) for drug misuse, across both men and women aged 25–44 years. Socioeconomic deprivation explained up to two-thirds of the excess mortality in the north.

According to the authors steep relative rises in deaths from cardiovascular disease, alcohol and drug misuse in the north compared with the south seem to have created new health divisions between England’s regions. These divisions might suggest increasing psychological distress, despair, and risk taking among young and middle-aged adults, they say.

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